Monday, October 20, 2008

Consumerism experienced, consumerism loathed.

While I was holding and admiring an orange-colored ladies' sweater, an executive from the store approached me. Though friendly, non-threatening, and incarnating the smiley icon on his face, the first thing the executive said to me was, "This is our latest arrival, you might want to buy this for your girlfriend?" This was at the Giordano store at Great World City.

A few weeks ago while I was browsing through the various albums lying on the display table at one of the retail shop at Suntec City, I met this executive who I saw many times at Tiong Bahru Plaza. Seems that she has been transfered to this branch. Trying to be nice, I greeted her. And right after exchanging greetings, she said to me, "You might want to buy this album for your girlfriend." This is the newly opened media store previously known as That CD Shop.

In both of the above situations, the executives are to be applauded for their 'chop-chop' selling method; those kind of "cut the crap and buy this item right now". This method saves time, energy, and everything else. It represents the ethos of modern economy and management: Efficiency and Effectiveness. Or so they thought.

But actually, not so. I didn't buy any items from both the stores. Why? Simply because I am not comfortable to be regarded as a non-human by another human. In those two moments, right after the executives' imperative, I felt that I'm only a consumer to them. Not a person. I was a being whose life's function is none other than to consume; to buy, buy, buy, and die. Consumption is the means and ends of my life. I live just to consume.

This consumerism philosophy undergirds the approach of these two executives. And once this philosophy is adopted, the value of humans has transformed. Other humans are important only if they consume one's production. This is degrading humanity. The similar assumption underlies Nazi's inhumane experiments done on humans. The difference is that consumerism is much more subtle. That is also why it is much more dangerous. We can rid the Nazi through bombs and guns, but how can we rid off consumerism?

I and others, include the two executives, are humans. Our value as God's creation is irreducible. The Gospel is consumerism's more fearful enemy. Christ of the Gospel is its worst adversary.

And, allowing ourselves to be fooled by this subtlety, we are still wondering why the financial and economic crisis hit us?

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